Cell phone bills and media makers

3 02 2009

It’s hard to know exactly what these numbers mean, but someone recently sent a long some statistics on the change in cell phone spending since the beginning of the decade.

The numbers below are pretty interesting, especially when you look at the younger demographics and their percentage of total telephone services spent on cell phone service.  These numbers of from the Bureau of Labor, show that spending on cell phone service increased tremendously from 2001 to 2007.  Somewhere in 2006, we started spending more on cell than on landlines. And that’s across all age groups, even the landline-bound Over 64 group, whose percentage of cell phone spending nearly tripled over that time. About one-third of these people are now spending more on cell phones.

That, to me, is an even more awesome statistic than the fact that about 3/4 of people under 25 are doing the same thing.

Cell phone usage has increased tremendously since 2001

Cell phone usage has increased tremendously since 2001

The article goes on to say,

In 2001, the ratio of spending on residential phone services to spending on cellular phone services was greater than 3 to 1. In 2007, cellular phone expenditures accounted for 55 percent of total telephone expenditures compared to 43 percent for residential phone expenditures.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) show that cellular phone expenditures increased rapidly from 2001 through 2007. Cellular phone expenditures surpassed spending on residential landline phone services beginning in 2007. Chart 1 shows that annual expenditures for cellular phone services per consumer unit increased from $210 in 2001 to $608 in 2007, an increase of 190 percent. Expenditures for residential phone services per consumer unit decreased from $686 to $482 over that period, a decrease of 30 percent.

There are obvious reasons that this might be so, including large cel phone bills — I don’t think that my landline (which I still keep going — my cel service in my own home being less reliable than the cel service I experienced in the Jordanian desert several years ago) accounts for more than 20% of my total monthly phone bill.  I’ve got a lot of services hanging off of it — including my miserable DSL service (more on that in another post).

But it’s clear that, with manhy people jettisoning their landlines in favor of cel service, that a sizable chunk of money (and our expectations) is going into cel phones.  Worldwide as well as in the United States.

If you ask me, this is great news for those of us who make media. As I told a class today, for those of us who love the idea of making media for screens above and beyond the television and the Big Silver, we’ve got a great expanse of wild and wooliness out there.  It will be necessary for the phone companies to compete with each other in even stronger ways, once it’s clear that their landline business is going away. Between business VoIP (like Skype and Avaya) and residential cel service, they’re going to want to shore up their cel services.

And that is going to mean providing additional content for the smart phones of the future.

If I were you, I’d start learning Big Time about puting media that you want to create, onto someone else’s cel phones. Then, after the dust settles, if you’re in there, you’re going to make some money.


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